I finished my 47th marathon today - in 50 starts (Surfside, Odessa and Louisville, KY), but it didn't come without some drama afterward.
It was very humid today. In mile two, while running was Tracy Raborn, we saw a bank clock that said 77 degrees. And this was at 7:20 a.m. or so. I was very thankful today for overcast skies and cool winds.
I dispel a lot of fluid when I run a race and even though, at times, I carry a water bottle (like I did today), I can never seem to get enough to ward off cramping on a day like today. (And, no, I didn't bring my salt tablets, which I did use for Rocky Raccoon 100 this past February.)
I didn't start doing the "marathon math" - how many miles I have left times 16 minutes per mile and what will my finish time be - until mile 13 today, but I delayed putting it into action until mile 20.
I was at 3:54:59 through mile 20, which isn't too bad. (Four hours is 12 minutes per mile.)
So I purposedly walked a lot in the last six miles and tried to run where I could. One thing that has changed over the last year or so, in preparing for Rocky, is that I don't let the walking get me down and discouraged. Because I know that if I can finish the 100-miler, there's going to be times that I'm walking.
Therefore, I was singularly focused in putting another finish in the books, thankful to have the ability, resources, freedom and time to be able to run a marathon on short notice. I know that it isn't the wisest thing to do, but I ran this marathon today solely to be around a very positive group of people.
When I finish out of state, I think I've mentioned before that I finish with the "Hook 'Em Horns" sign, even though my favorite teams are usually whoever plays Texas, A&M and Notre Dame. Today, though, I thought that I would have a little fun by coming in with the University of Houston handsign and "gig" the Aggie fans about the Cougars hand-delivering their new coach for this football season, Kevin Sumlin.
I tossed my water bottle before entering the wide chute and was coming in strong when I felt like I was shot by a sniper -- cramping in the calves of both of my legs.
It was right before the reader mat and two members of the Scott and White Medical Team came rushing towards me. (I learned later that this had been a common scene all morning as they treated more than 150 runners.)
Once I was OK, I was determined to run across the line with the Eat 'Em Up, Coogs sign. Someone put a medal around my neck, the Medical Team got my shirt and off we went to find a bed.
They took me to a back set of beds behind the big white tent. A team of physicians and nurses worked to stretch my calves while they doused me with cold towels and brought me some Gatorade. This went on for about 10-15 minutes. When I thought that I might be able to get up, spasms shattered my left leg and left me screaming.
The next 20 minutes or so was an experience I hope that I don't have to relive. They brought over a massage therapist after I had rolled to my stomach. While she was desperately trying to loosen things up, it hurt very badly. I was screaming and writhing in pain.
Poor Tammy Ninke of Bill's Volte Endurance Training group had come over to check on me, while everyone was waiting on Mary Carter to finish her first marathon, and see how I was doing and she got to see me in my worst state. Hopefully I haven't scarred her for life. :)
After this had gone on for awhile, and they got my legs stable, it was determined that they should go in and get me some IV fluids. All I was trying to do was to avoid a trip to the hospital and a potential outpatient observation or inpatient stay.
The Scott & White Medical Team was incredible in their professionalism, kindness, compassion and genuine concern for my well-being. I think it is a challenge that we all face in our day-to-day lives to treat people that we've never come in contact with before better than anybody else.
They couldn't find a vein on my right arm and moved to my left to get it in place and get an IV started. They continued to place cold towels on my legs.
After about 10 minutes, the saline solution caused me to shiver - and literally chatter my teeth - and they brought towels out to get me warm. They had me drink as much as I was able to and one medical professional asked for me to deep breathe in as much as I could to get more oxygen into my bloodstream.
I was concerned that while this was going on that my legs remained tense and that the cycle of spasms would continue because I couldn't relax. So as they started a second IV, I started to move my legs as much as I could without triggering another attack.
During all of this I joked with a professional or two that my male ego was in the process of being shattered, but it was really that I felt so helpless in being in this situation.
I'm man enough to say that I cried a little bit.
The last time this had happened was last June in Kona. It was the first time that I had ever been in the medical tent after a race. It was at the beginning of our vacation and it scared me to have put Waverly into that situation while we were so far from home.
Thank goodness, I also had Steve and Paula Boone from Humble and Angela Tortorice from Dallas who were there to be able to support me too.
Today, without Waverly being there with me (as she was in church where she's supposed to be), I was so very appreciative of my best friend (besides Waverly), Bill Dwyer, and another great friend, Leanne Rosser, for coming in and checking on me to make sure that I was OK.
They went and got me food as my appetite started to come around and then waited to help to make sure that I would be able to get to my vehicle.
I'm very thankful for the people that I have in my life who are willing to give of themselves when there is nothing for them to necessarily get out of it.